Brown, Hallie Q.
|AUNT MAC -- A Life in Three Chapters|
It was about the 1st of April, in the year 1820, that an emigrating party started from Green Springs, Virginia, to the State of Kentucky. It consisted of Col. Richard Morris, his six children and their mother. There were twenty other families, making a total of 100 persons. Their route was overland, being undertaken in wagons and carriages. The spring season being unusually early the journey was a very pleasant one. Their way lay through the charming, rolling land of Virginia, now fording a muddy, dashing brook, and again riding over some mountain spur.
When eventide began to settle heavily around them, they halted amid a thickly sheltered wood, near some friendly, gushing spring, and when the eastern sky was crimsoned by the blush of the coming morn, the party resumed its journey. How eagerly they drank in the balmy spring air, and how they admired the beauteous scenes as they arose, one after another, like some grand panorama. The Cumberland Mountains loomed up before them with its shaggy brows, and vehicle after vehicle rolled through its noted gap.
One month was thus spent, the party reaching its destination the first of May. They settled on a farm consisting of three thousand acres, which was situated six miles below the city of Louisville.
The parents of the Morris children died shortly after their arrival, leaving them under an executor's care, who was to educate them and see that the estate was equally
Our sketch has to do principally with the second child, Hannah. She was born in the year, 1810, and consequently was ten years old when the family removed to Kentucky. Her home was with her eldest brother, Shelton Morris, until her marriage to Mr. McDonald, which occurred in the year 1833. Albany, Indiana, was chosen as their future place of abode, and here seven years--golden years of joy and happiness--sped swiftly by, when her companion was called from labor to reward. The desolated home was abandoned and Mrs. McDonald removed to Cincinnati, where she became an inmate of her younger sister's house.
Here she began living only for others and wholly forgetting self--one of her loveliest traits that shone out in every action. How weak are the words employed and how short the space allotted to tell the half of this dear saint.
Several years have elapsed since the closing events of chapter one. We find ourselves standing in a large grove where tall symmetrical trees nod and wave to each passing breeze. Nicely-kept paths intersect each other, winding here and there and leading to the neat cottages that stand in orderly rows on either side of the campus. Before us, some distance back, a large brick building--a central one flanked on each side by a wing--raises itself even beyond the tallest forest tree.
A wide carriage drive rolls from the road to the building and the whole is surrounded by a white, paling fence with its neat stiles and wicket gates. The dew trembles on every leaflet and blade of grass; the day king mounts higher and higher, while the feathery songsters warble their most tuneful lays. What an enchanted spot is this! Can
Mrs. McDonald, did we say? How strangely that sounds. Scarcely one in a score knew that she had any other name save Aunt Mac. She was everybody's Aunt Mac, from the hoary-headed man to the prattling babe. But the pleasant sitting-room is before us now, and the low rocking chair in which she used to sit and knit. How the needle would click and fly. The stockings and mittens piled on each other, came as if by magic. Everywhere and always could be heard her firm elastic step going on some errand of mercy, to relieve some heavy heart by her deeds of kindness and by that sweet happy face over which no shade of sorrow ever seemed to pass. All the little ones for miles around knew and loved her. She had a kind word for Willie and a caress for Jennie, and when in the height of their childish sports her laugh would ring out and mingle with theirs in innocent glee. And such a laugh! I wish you might have heard it! It was like the rippling of some happy stream, so cheery its sound and so full of hearty good will. She was the very providence, too, of the whole neighborhood. Her clear head and peace-loving spirit has helped overcome many straits and brought about numerous reconciliations. She--our dear Aunt Mac--loved us all and wished there were more to love. A great expansive heart was hers beneath that stately black, or the folds of that plainer Quaker dress. We can see her today, those soft brown eyes with more beauty in them than time could touch, those eyes that had both smiles and tears within the faintest call of every one she loved. Her charity was even more beautiful than her patience or kindness. There was no hut so mean, or its occupants so poor, that had not a claim upon her. It was at such doors that her faded and tremulous hands tapped the oftener for admission.
From her capacious pocket and basket that dear hand
A pretty home with many a cluster of shrubs and cedars. May flowers fill the air with fragrance. 'Tis Evergreen Cottage--Aunt Mac's home. But why are the shutters closed, and what means that bow of heavy crape? We enter--a death-like stillness pervades. Then we learn that she has flown--that our dear Aunt Mac is with us no more. "It was only this morning she went," says one. A loving hand penned a letter she dictated, and then--a look of recognition, a smile and that sweet spirit took its gentle flight into the fullness of life. Her work was done and nobly done. She was not left to suffer, but while fond hearts would detain her and loving hands were clinging to her to keep her from dying, she silently vanished from our sight, and we can hardly see to write for the memory of her, though it is an arm's length till sunset. It is only a short time since we folded her in the soft gray robe--a short time since we placed her within the casket and gazed affectionately upon the serene face whose youth and freshness seemed to return and made her even more beautiful in death than in life.
So vivid is it all before us, that we are again in the past and beside her. The white hands are so meekly folded upon the still bosom that there seems to be prayer in them there. All lips are mute and all hearts are touched. Even merry, rollicking Dash quits his sports and whines piteously. The pet canary has ceased its song, while the lofty pines outside sing a sad refrain as we bear the dear form from
Aunt Mac is no more and we shall miss her forever, but each of her loved ones can set up a tablet in the heart and write upon it simply this:
Sacred to the Memory
Our Dear Aunt Mac